By Daniel Barnes
*Opens Friday, April 27, at the Landmark Embarcadero in San Francisco.
Talk about Contempt!
Academy Award-winning director Michael Hazanavicius (that looks wrong, but this is our world now, deal with it) delivers this annoyingly whimsical biopic about the relationship between thirty-something auteur Jean-Luc Godard (Louis Garrel) and teenage actress Anne Wiazemsky (Stacy Martin).
With the prickly and brooding Godard already established as the disenchanted cinematic voice of his generation, the comparatively carefree Wiazemsky followed her breakthrough role in Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar by appearing in several Godard films, and the mismatched pair were married in 1967. Their hot-and-cold relationship coincided with an increasingly Marxist, activist and collectivist streak in Godard’s work and public life, although Hazanavicius predictably dismisses Godard as a sniveling and pretentious fraud every chance that he gets.
Garrel’s thoroughly charmless performance in the title role certainly doesn’t help matters (even Jean Dujardin’s unhinged mugging would have been an upgrade), but the real culprit is the candy-colored vacuity of Hazanavicius. I had the same reaction watching Hazanavicius summon Godard-ian images and tropes in Godard mon Amour that I had to Zack Snyder’s slavish recreation of specific panels from Watchmen: he understands everything except for the entire fucking point.